Since the 2019 introduction of Protocol Sir Robert Peel, the Lawmen Series (as it is now known) has provided a new outlet of creativity within the Protocol Cigars brand. This includes more intricate tobacco recipes, a luxury feel (in comparison to the core “P” lineup), and even an expansion outside of the brand’s longtime La Zona manufacturing partner. The latter was first seen with the Protocol Eliot Ness line, which is rolled at A.J. Fernández’s San Lotano factory in Nicaragua’s northern city of Ocotal.

Protocol Eliot Ness picks up where Sir Robert Peel left off, being themed around yet another influential individual in the history of law enforcement. As Cigar Dojo noted at upon the cigar’s announcement:

The Lawmen Series aims to pay tribute to notable individuals throughout law enforcement history, standing in contrast to the glorification of famed criminals often portrayed in television and film. This year’s release is centered around Eliot Ness, a prominent FBI agent during the time of Prohibition, best known for his efforts to take down American gangster Al Capone.

Protocol Eliot Ness Maduro Toro cigar box open

Protocol Eliot Ness Maduro Toro Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Corojo
  • Factory: San Lotano (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Vitola: 6″ × 52 (Toro)
  • Price: $11.95 (MSRP)

Eliot Ness is rolled in the same box-pressed toro format as its predecessor, once again showcasing natural and maduro wrapper variants over the same interior recipe. Each version uses Nicaraguan Corojo leaves from the viso and seco primings of Estelí and Jalapa within the filler, as well as an Estelí-grown Habano binder. The Natural is wrapped in Nicaraguan Habano, while the Maduro opts for a rarely-seen Nicaraguan Broadleaf. Finally, both cigars are rolled without the use of ligero tobacco—a far cry from the quadruple-stuffed ligero blend of the original Protocol cigar.

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Appearance

Eliot Ness uses the same boxes—aside from subtle paint color differences—as the Sir Robert Peel. It’s a nice look, being slightly more ornate than the standard “P” line, alluding to the more premium nature of the cigars without driving the cost up dramatically. The bands continue this level of consistency, using a new blue color scheme, swapping the likeness of Sir Robert Peel for Eliot Ness, and changing the year on the sub-band from 1829 to 1931.

The cigars have a nice overall appearance, being softly box-pressed and proportionately square when looking down the barrel. The wrapper is classic maduro in hue and especially toothy. The leaf shows surprisingly thin veins and tight seams, leading to what appears to be a double cap at the head. It’s somewhat light in the hand, with the bunch feeling medium-light when squeezed. The nose is classic Broadleaf, showing earth, black pepper, and a touch of anise. The foot is a little more rustic, with notes of barnyard, black pepper, and coffee grounds. As anticipated, the pre-light draw is on the loose side, having flavors of earth, warm spice, and black tea.

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Smoking Experience

There is a surprising zing of sharp pepper through the nostrils—considering the cigar’s lack of ligero—with the first few puffs. It’s closest to black pepper, being dry on the palate and punchy on the retrohale. This is the primary flavor through the beginning, but softer, bittersweet flavors of earth, espresso, and cocoa lie just beneath. There is not much in the way of sweetness, aside from an occasional cherry syrup at the tip of the tongue. This portion is medium-plus in flavor, and medium in body and strength.

Protocol Eliot Ness Maduro Toro cigar ash

While the smoking draw is still slightly on the loose side, it’s not as concerning as the pre-light let on. However, this could be contributing to the cigar’s dry mouthfeel, heating the tobaccos quicker than I’d like. The construction is solid, burning straight and collecting a medium-gray, toothy ash that lasts close to an inch and a half. Entering the second third, the dry cocoa from before takes on a darker Hershey’s syrup flavor; this is balanced by spice at the start of each puff and touches of sweetness through the finish. On the palate, the smoke registers mostly on the tip of the tongue (sweetness), sides (saltiness), and center (bitterness).

Mocha picks up when chocolate subsides, followed by a dark honey wheat bread flavor. It doesn’t seem to be a supremely complex profile, but the bittersweet flavors are done right, being joined by a touch of syrupy sweetness (now more in the molasses region) and a fitting level of body. Winding down to the end, mocha picks up in sweetness, while the former pepper spice makes a brief return, now more along the lines of curry. This leads to a core of bitter earth through the finale, finishing out at medium-plus in flavor, and medium-full in body and strength.

Protocol Eliot Ness Maduro Toro cigar closeup

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

Why yes—yes I would. This was a fun intro into Nicaraguan Broadleaf, offering a grittier perspective of the Nicaraguan puro profile. I thought the lack of ligero was a bold move, not overwhelming the senses and placing more emphasis on the unique wrapper. If bittersweet meets your profile, this is a no-brainer.

Additional Info
  • This cigar marks the first time Cubariqueño has ventured outside of the La Zona factory. Notably, the San Lotano factory is still within the family, as a large portion of the factory’s output is for Espinosa product.
  • The Nicaraguan Broadleaf wrapper is probably the most unique leaf seen to date on a Protocol cigar. Conventionally grown in the U.S., I can only think of a couple others to use a Nicaraguan version (Mombacho Casa Favilli and AJF Last Call Maduro).
  • Overlapping bands can often be a nice touch, but these are pretty challenging to remove.
  • This cigar was first announced in August of 2020, with the eventual launch being delayed until 2021 due to COVID-19 delays.
  • Cubariqueño announced the followup to Eliot Ness this week as the Protocol Bass Reeves.

Profile
  • Flavor: Medium-Plus
  • Strength: Medium
  • Body: Medium
Core Flavors
  • Bittersweet espresso
  • Dry cocoa
  • Molasses
  • Mocha
  • Earth
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Chocolate old fashioned | Milk stout | Yoo-hoo | Cold brew coffee
  • Purchase Recommendation: Box

Protocol Eliot Ness Maduro Toro cigar nub finished

Protocol Eliot Ness Maduro Toro
The Lawmen Series continues with Eliot Ness. This is developing into a nice complimentary collection to Protocol's core lineup, offering more intricate blends and flavor profiles than seen from the company up to this point. In my opinion, while the Natural was the better of the Sir Robert Peel duo, the Maduro takes the lead with Eliot Ness. This is a balanced and somewhat subtle experience, offering bittersweet qualities with a nice touch of sweetness whenever the profile seemed to be in danger of becoming too dry. With an ever-growing collection of cigars under the Protocol banner, Eliot Ness Maduro sets itself apart with a profile like nothing they've released to date.
Appearance89%
Burn/Construction93%
Draw87%
Flavor92%
Complexity86%
Price/Value89%
Pros
  • Quality construction
  • Nicely balanced
  • Highlights bitter flavor qualities without veering into harsh territory
Cons
  • Slightly loose draw
  • Burns a bit quicker and hotter than ideal
89%Bittersweet Treat
  • Cigar Wars cigar ratings
  • Steve Saka Cigars
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